A federal jury found Bolivia’s anti-corruption chief guilty of traveling to Miami to extort $30,000 from a wealthy Bolivian businessman who was facing trumped-up charges back home.
Bolivian National Police Col. Mario Fabricio Ormachea Aliaga, left, was found guilty of two counts of extortion, the Miami Herald said.
Ormachea faces up to 25 years in prison. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on May 23 by U.S. District Judge Jose A. Gonzalez Jr.
He was arrested in Miami in August and has been in federal custody.
Ormachea’s extortion target was Humberto Roca, former owner of Aerosur Airlines, the Miami Herald said.
Roca fled to the United States in 2011 after he was charged in Bolivia with “illegal enrichment.”
“During an FBI sting operation, Roca paid $5,000 in cash to Ormachea — a transaction that was videotaped on August 31 by federal agents in the converted garage of Roca’s Miami Lakes home,” the Miami Herald said.
The $5,000 was a down payment on the extortion demand.
Ormachea “took the money,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon Juenger told the jury during closing arguments of the three-day trial. “You saw him count the money.”
Juenger said the anti-corruption chief used his power to threaten an innocent man for money: “That is a frightening, diabolical thing to do to somebody.”
Roca said he was granted political asylum by the U.S. in 2012 after he was charged in Bolivia with taking “money that belonged to the state.”
In a civil lawsuit filed in Florida, Roca has accused senior Bolivian government officials, including President Evo Morales, of “directing a campaign of political persecution against him — including seizing his company, Aerosur, which competed with Bolivia’s nationally owned airline,” the Miami Herald said.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.